Why iPhone & iPad App Names Say “Cleaning…” and What to Do About It

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You may have noticed that some iOS apps go dark as if they were launched and simultaneously rename themselves as “Clean …”, seemingly out of the blue and randomly. This is demonstrated with the attached iPhone screenshot, which shows the Instagram app going through the process. So the big question for many users is: what is happening here and why does that iPhone or iPad app say it is being cleaned?

We explain what the “Cleaning” message means, what it does, and also what it means for you, the user of the iOS device, to do when you see it.

App “Cleaning” means dumping caches, local data and temporary files

In short, when the name of an iOS app says “Cleanup”, it means that the operating system is clearing caches and temporary files associated with that app. This happens on all iOS devices, so it doesn’t matter if you’re using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you’ll likely see the same thing from time to time.

The name of the iPhone app says

“Cleaning” usually indicates that the available storage space on the device is very low

While the cleaning process appears to be completely random, the feature is almost always triggered due to the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch running out of available storage space. Basically, when iOS detects that the available space is low, it starts looking for apps that have stored significant local data from caches and temporary files, and tries to ‘clean’ that by deleting the saved cache files. That’s why you’ll see the process most often in apps that download data from the web, such as Instagram, Facebook, and Vine, although it can happen with other apps as well. Additionally, those app caches and temporary files contribute to the creation of up some of that mysterious “Other” storage space that users will often find when they sync with iTunes and wonder.

If you see the “cleaning process” you can confirm that the space is very low by going to Settings> General> Usage, don’t be surprised you have a MB or two if not the dreaded “0 bytes available” left on it device. Typically when “Cleaning” is completed up, it can be free up a few hundred MB of space by dumping temporary files from apps.

Low usage of iOS storage space

While it would be helpful to free up some space in a pinch, there is no way to manually trigger the ‘clean up’ process in iOS other than to force your iOS device to run out of space, barely a practical move. Users who want to take matters into their own hands can manually clear iOS caches using PhoneClean app, but this requires connecting iPhone / iPad to a computer, but it can up anywhere from a few hundred megs to even a GB or two of storage space on a device.

See the name of the iOS app “Cleaning”? Back Up & Clean house

In general, when you see the cleaning process on your iOS device in progress, the best thing to do is to back off up the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and clean things up up a little.

We’ve covered several ways to get free up some storage space on iOS devices, the essence is that you want to delete some of the saved media like pictures, movies, music and videos (only after you have a backupup have made up this media of course), then go ahead and delete apps you don’t use often anymore. Also, don’t forget about the message threads, deleting old iMessage conversations can be a huge factor in freeing up space especially if you send and receive a lot of multimedia, picture messages, gifs and videos between friends and family.

When you are done freeing up space, you shouldn’t see the cleaning message for quite some time … at least until you’re running out of storage space again. If you see this often and are constantly running out of storage space for iOS devices, you probably want to question the size of the device if you are going to upgrade an iPhone, iPad or iPod again in the future. Doubling your available space on an iPhone from 16 GB to 32 GB or an iPad from 32 GB to 64 GB can make a huge difference for those who are persistently low on storage (which, let’s face it, almost all of us are). In that sense, we hope Apple will increase the minimum device storage on offer to 32GB sooner rather than later, but the chances of that happening are probably pretty slim, at least for the foreseeable future.

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